US&A worked with Bose to develop a research & Insights report that guided the Bose design team to make two new socially and environmentally sustainable wearables.
Wearable technology will inevitable blur the line between the human and the computer. This Orwellian vision is daunting to consumers, with many outright rejecting the very notion of wearable tech. Conversely, those on the cutting edge of the field believe wearable technology will nudge us away from our current unsustainable tech practices.
In order to penetrate the wearable tech market, Bose needed to create a product that would not only be approachable, but would tell this hopeful story of techno-reform in a time of techno-dystopia.
First, we needed to help Bose understand this story. We interviewed researchers embedding cancer sensing bio-receptors in microchips, engineers making textiles that respond to stress, and artists making “heirloom technology” meant to combat planned obsolescence.
Data Does Good & RIP Medical Debt
Data Fights Debt is a free Google Chrome extension that enables any user to erase $1000-$3000 in medical debt with data alone. It was also an effective campaign that grew our client’s user base significantly.
Data Does Good, a startup helping people make their data anonymous, wanted to launch a campaign that would bring younger, socially active users to their platform.
Our Consumer as Constituent Research Report showed us this group unanimously cared about two social issues: Debt, and rising costs in medical insurance. However, this group wanted to do more than just give money; They wanted to feel some agency in a time when they felt little.
We enabled anyone to hack the system and erase $1000 to $3000 in American medical debt with data alone. Sharing of this product on social media lead to a significant increase in Data Does Good’s user base and platform.
Alone your data is not worth much. It’s the patterns in our collective data that have immense value to tech companies. We wanted to give some of this value back to the people who created it. Data Fights Debt is a Chrome Extension that allows users to pool their anonymous Amazon shopping data. Patterns in this data are then sold to advertisers (essentially cutting out the middleman, or, Amazon) which results in a shared profit among the collective. The data collective then donates this revenue to RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys large swaths of data for a cent on the dollar. This means each user erased $1000-$3000 in medical debt.
Net(neutral)Flix is a campaign concept pitched to Netflix that will provide internet access and a collective billion dollar raise to 1.8 million New Yorkers. Why would Netflix’s shareholders allow this? Well, first off, its profitable…
A Shared Problem
2 million New Yorkers don’t have broadband internet. This isn’t just a connectivity problem: a change in net speed from 4 MBPS to 8 MBPS, on average, increases a household’s income by $140/month.This is a problem for streaming services as well: Most of this 2 million strong population would subscribe to a streaming service if their networks enabled data heavy streaming. That’s profit lost.
A Shared Solution
We approached Netflix with a proposition: become an internet service provider, or ISP, in NYC. Saying that sounds unrealistic: The cost alone for Netflix to do this just 3 years ago would have been laughable. This is where Mesh NYC comes in. Mesh NYC is a community run ISP, started by a group of engineers after the 2017 repeal of Net Neutrality. Community members install cheap routers which connect to each other wirelessly that spread decentralized, free, and net-neutral internet around NYC from rooftop to rooftop.
However, Mesh NYC, at present, only exists in downtown Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan where residents already have the resources to connect to the internet.
We proposed Netflix spread this network throughout NYC using a format their familiar with: billboards. Elevated roads, running like veins throughout the greater boroughs of NYC, are lined with tall billboards, which can be retrofitted with “nodes.” Using a 3D map of NYC and machine learning, we established key billboards around New York that Netflix could buy ad space on, install nodes on top of, and create a backbone of internet running through all of NYC.
Then, by purchasing and sending 400,000 routers to those without fast internet, they could connect 1.8 million New Yorkers with fast, free, net neutral internet. Disregarding the effects on brand perception on revenue, our survey numbers show this campaign would break even and start making a profit in 18 months from new subscriptions.
MedStartr & NYCEDC
The New York City Economic Development Corporation wanted to boost NYC’s economy by making it a healthcare innovation hub. Their ask: an online healthcare marketplace.
Most healthcare innovation marketplaces only benefit those with Phds, money, or both.
We worked with MedStartr to rebuild and redesign the first crowdfunding platform for healthcare, enabling patients and entrepreneurs to finally get paid for their ideas.
Most crowdfunding platforms like KickStarter cannot be used to raise money for healthcare related products; consumers don’t always know what’s best for them when it comes to highly advanced medical devices. MedStartr’s breakthrough platform, which allows doctors, patients, insurance companies, social workers, and activists to engage with new healthcare innovation ideas, uses a proprietary algorithm that very accurately assesses the future financial success of healthcare innovation ideas. The algorithm has such authority amongst investors that patients, who have experience in healthcare but perhaps not PhDs, can get large investments if their idea is ranked higher. Thus, it is patients with problems, rather than large companies, who get money to develop their ideas.
Data for Black Lives
US&A helped researchers at Stanford, MIT, and the organization Data For Black Lives design a nutrition labeling system for algorithms.
Algorithms, like produce, can be fresh or rotten. The problem is, many of us who interact with algorithms (all of us) don’t understand their negative societal and personal effects, specifically on people of color. There is an even more existential problem in all of this: how do you get people to care?
The internet is dominated by tools that tell us something about ourselves and our place in the world with a degree of authority. This comes in the form of the Fitbit, gamified banking apps… even Horoscopes and Buzzfeed quizzes. Users are thirsty for content that will tell them something about themselves. We might as well use this habit of ours for crucial education.
A interactive site that enables people to predict what an algorithm thinks of them, see their actual results, learn a little about how they compare to other people, and finally, get introduced to the Algorithm Nutrition Label.
“The traditional convention of capitalism is that ethics and profit are frequently at odds. However, we are entering an era of what economist Chris Ladd calls ‘Social Capitalism,’ in which people treat a purchase less like a trade of goods and more like a vote.”